Friday, June 12, 2009

Pros, Not Prudes

My attention was brought another article about male presenters being rather unprofessional at a technology conference. I passed up on writing about the previous Rails CouchDB fiasco since it was pretty well covered already. But the fact that someone has raised the bar even further is rather troubling and warrants a post here.

The article is called Prude or Professional? and really hit the nail on the head for me:
Don't get us wrong, we are not women who can't handle off-color humor, or provocative messages, or even erotic digital art. But each of these has it's place. Paying for a professional conference and being subjected to this kind of content is infuriating.
Jokes amongst my closer friends could definitely be construed as sexist or inappropriate. I remember hanging out in the undergrad lounge with some of the guys (including a faculty member, if I recall correctly), and someone brought up the fact that some person was considering a "Women of Computer Science" calendar. The joke was that I'd be the only one in it (and I think it went on from there - it was a while ago). Though this is a mild example, I'm sure there are many others not so mild. These guys would not talk this way if they didn't know for a fact that I'd be ok with it.

But there is a big difference between joking with friends and infusing a talk given at a conference with very sexual content. Hoss Gifford spoke at Flashbelt about his latest Flash endeavours.
And then, to top it off, a self-made flash movie of an animated woman's face, positioned as if she's having sex with you, who gradually orgasms based on the speed of your mouse movement on the page.
Forget women being uncomfortable with this - any professional person would be!

I'm not sure why it's only the world of technology that seems to be able to get away with this. I imagine you don't see this sort of thing on teachers' P.D. days or at medical research conferences. Is it because tech really is still too much of an 'old boys club'?

I figure if there's as much controversy created as there has been for the CouchDB talk and now this one, they'll eventually learn.


PhizzleDizzle said...

reading about this disturbed me even more than the last thing....GAH!!!!!

lc224 said...

Any normal person with even a trace of sensitivity would have been bothered by this crude and adolescent presentation. One can't pretend to be a professional with such an outdated frat-boy attitude.

Frozone said...

Gosh, another one!!! You'd think these people would learn. I heard that someone resigned because of the Ruby CouchDB thing. I'm amazed that people still don't get it. I guess it's our job to keep speaking up until they DO get it. Thanks for the post!

toomuchcookies said...

i think the problem is less the 'old boys club' but rather that even most tech-guys themselves don't see their profession as something professional, but as something 'cool'. So joking around whilest giving a speech at a conference about computer technology is still something cool and not simply disturbing. In other conferences one would make a joke here or there, but would still adhere to simple rules of modesty and good taste.

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